Elderly Priming Effects on Reaction Time, Grip Strength, and Driving Proficiency
Elderly priming is a topic within psychology currently under intense scrutiny. Generally defined, elderly priming is the idea that priming stimuli relating to the elderly stereotype make one more likely to subsequently behave in ways consistent with this stereotype (e.g., walking slower). The current paper tests this phenomenon with the prediction that elderly stereotype priming will reduce physical grip strength, reaction times, and driving performance on a simulator task. In this study, priming stimuli were presented supraliminally with old/young faces. A marginally significant increase in peak grip strength and overall grip strength following our elderly priming manipulation was observed, compared to young or mixed faces control conditions. Additionally, participants exhibited significantly slower response time to pictures of elderly faces in the facial recognition task than in the young or mixed condition. Our hand grip results suggest the presence of an elderly priming effect, however, not the one we had originally hypothesized. I propose a model, which combines our physical resources mechanism (Klatzky & Creswell, 2014) with a motivation priming effect. This motivation prime arises, as a result of a participant’s awareness of our dependent measure. Therefore, as elderly priming alters the perception of participants, causing him or her to feel relatively weak, each participant squeezes the hand grip apparatus more firmly to compensate for the perceived loss of grip strength.